They had been with Jesus
Peter and John, at the hour of prayer went into the temple. It was there they saw a lame man, and in the name of Jesus Christ, and they healed him (Acts 4:6-8). This stirred up the people in the city and provided the man of God an opportunity to declare Jesus to all (Acts 3:9-10). The results of Peter’s sermon were that five thousand men believed the word (Acts 4:4). This led to their examination before the rulers. It is there we find the statement “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13, KJV).
There are several things here for us to observe:
I. They had been with Jesus. It is true that they had been with Jesus while he lived on this Earth. They talked with the Lord, ate with him, etc. It is true they were still with the Lord spiritually, even though he had made his departure from earth to heaven) Matt. 28:20.
They saw the boldness of those men and they took knowledge they had been with Jesus, but it was after his death and ascension that they really had the courage to deliver the word of the Lord. Remember that Peter denied the Lord while on earth (Mt.26:75), but after his ascension he was ready to die for the cause. Why the change? They had really been with Jesus. (Acts 5:29-30). Here is a very strong argument in favor of the resurrected Lord; for if there had been any doubt, there would have been no boldness.
II. What is it to be with Christ today? Every person has the opportunity to be with the Lord and for the Lord to be with you (2 Tim 4:22). First, in order to be with Christ today, one must have knowledge of the Lord. (1 John 5:20; 1 John 1:3).
However, being with Christ requires more than mere knowledge. One must walk in the light in order to be with him. (1 John 1:7). This is the reason that so many are not with him. They refuse to walk with him (Mk. 16:16; 1 John 1:9). In fact, there is more to being with Christ than in obeying the first principles of the oracles of God. Consider the times that his disciples were with Him as he walked among them. (1) They had been with Jesus as he preached the gospel to the people (Matt. 11:4-6). (2) They were with Christ in worship services (Luke 4:16). (3) They were with Christ in the Garden of prayer (Mk. 4:38). (4) They had been with Jesus in the storms of life (Mark 4:8). And though they were not as close as they ought to have been, (5) they were with Jesus at the Cross (Luke 22:61-62).
What a privilege to be able to be with Jesus! What would you give to get to sit among the 5,000 as Jesus’ disciples served the loaves and fishes? What value would you place on a few minutes with Jesus as you walked together to Emmaus. Remember “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). Recall also “for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20, KJV).
III. Consider the character of the ones with our Lord – a character produced by that companionship. It cannot be hid as they took knowledge that they had been with Christ.
(1) The rulers saw the boldness of these two men. To be with Christ will make men Christ-like. Christ was bold. When the guards came to the garden, His response was “I told you I am he” (John 18:3-8). We hear no fear in those words. He was spoken of as the Lion of Judah. Boldness means more than what some think. It literally means "the act of saying everything: one that is unembarrassed to speak what is needed when it is needed."
Then consider the boldness of Peter in the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:14). Again, look at Philip as he meets the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35). They preached Christ when needed.
(2) These men had a true knowledge of the words of Jesus. It is true they were not educated in the Law of Moses as were the Rabbis of that day; but they knew the words of Jesus. Knowledge of God’s word today is just as noticeable. It will make you wiser than your enemies (Psalms 119:98).
(3) These men were free from the fear of man. To be with Christ will free man from the fear of men (Acts 5:29). They feared God more than man. This does not mean
they were not afraid at times (Mt.10:28); but they still kept it controlled.
(4) They were zealous in their work. Jesus Christ had been zealous (John 2:17). And his disciples were zealous under all conditions (Acts 2:42). Zeal continued to characterize the churches which they established (2 Cor 7:11).
(5) And as Jesus had been, they were longsuffering. These men of God were longsuffering. They did not cease teaching the word of God just because they did not accept it the first time. Far too many of us lack longsuffering with others.
Hence, in application, studying the changes in character and behavior which became a part of their lives because they had been with Jesus; we should all be inspired to be with Jesus ourselves.
IV. We close, by being reminded of the impression that such conduct made upon others, even their enemies. “They took knowledge.” Yes, they could see that they had been with Jesus. This can be seen in life and in death (Phil. 1:25-26). Such memory will linger in the hearts of people. (Prov. 10:7). Those words would make a great epitaph for any one of us.
What do they see in your life today?